Haibane Renmei strikes me as a difficult show to dub or even market to Western audiences. It's a gentle, slower-paced show, with almost no violence, deliberately ambiguous symbolism, and while there is comedy, it is based more on observation and subtlety than on silly sight gags (not that I am opposed to silly sight gags on principle, mind you). This is a show that requires great, nuanced acting, and thankfully New Generation Pictures offers up a terrific dub for a series that has quickly become an odd favorite for myself.
RAKKA (Carrie Savage)-Aside from her delightfully subversive work as Maromi, this might be my favorite Carrie Savage role. Carrie, as we've discussed before, tends to get typecast as sickeningly saccharine young girls, and this pigeonholing can sometimes serve as a detriment despite her prodigious acting talent. Rakka is different, however; she is as lost and confused as the audience in the early goings of the series, but she eventually grows in confidence and ends up doing some pretty daring things by series' end. Carrie's soft voice is a perfect fit for this little haibane in any of her moods, be they confused, happy, or even heroic.
REKKI (Erika Weinstein)-Possibly my favorite performance in the dub, Rekki is arguably the most complex character in the show, a "sinbound" haibane who wrestles with a dark, lonely past even as she proves to be a truly kind, caring individual. Erika's voice for Rekki is surprisingly deep and husky, but it works perfectly for this deadpan, secretly tormented soul, and she does a great job with both Rekki's normal, caring self and the more emotionally wrenching scenes when Rekki tries to come to grips with her past. It's terrific work all around.
HIKARI (Hunter Mackenzie Austin)-The bubbly, slightly mischievous haibane of the group, Hunter gives Hikari an appropriately young-sounding voice and a bright, cheerful tone that gives way to concern when necessary. Not much to say except, "It's great!"
KANA (Zarah Little)-Kana is the tomboy of the group, so Zarah gives her a somewhat rougher, boyish voice to distinguish her, although we never doubt that she's a girl. Zarah also does some great acting here, particularly in Kana's "spotlight" episode where we learn where she works and what her outlook on life is. It's my third-favorite performance in the dub behind Carrie and Erika.
KUU (J. Ray Hochfield)-Kuu is perhaps even more sprightly and energetic than Hikari, and J. Ray sounds so young that I almost thought they had actually hired a young girl to play the part. Sadly, Kuu's only around for about half the series, and J. Ray does an equally great job with the burgeoning sadness in Kuu's voice as she prepares to take her "Day of Flight".
NEMU (Karen Strassman)-Karen has one of the voices that can suit a variety of female characters, be they hot-blooded ass-kickers like Kallen in Code Geass, femme fatales like Fasalina in GunXSword, or characters like Nemu, a haibane so sleepy she almost seems narcoleptic. Karen takes that "sleepiness" and applies it to her voice, although she thankfully avoids the trap of sounding dull. Nemu turns out to have an interesting "shared past" with Rekki, and Karen does a good job with those scenes as well.
THE COMMUNICATOR (Michael McConnohie)-A strange being who seems to hold sway over the lives of the haibane, Michael gives this character a harsh, authoritative tone that can nevertheless shift into a more perceptive, understanding mode when that kind of conversation is needed. It's another great performance from an actor I love.
HYOHKO (Josh Phillips)-It's admittedly a little odd hearing Josh in this role, seeing as his most famous character is the foul-mouthed, thuggish Jan Valentine in Hellsing and Hellsing Ultimate. Hyohko seems thuggish at first, but ultimately turns out not to be, and Josh does a good job with this shift in characterization.
Miscellaneous actors include Stephanie Sheh, Taliesin Jaffe, Wendee Lee, and William Knight, all of whom do lovely work in their small roles. Overall, this is a terrific dub for a great show.
Up next: Baccano!, then Black Butler, Welcome to the NHK, RIN: Daughters of Mnemosyme, Corpse Princess/Shikabane Hime and, eventually, RahXephon.